Why Cupcakes? The Cupcake Girls on the Big Idea
Why Cupcakes? The Cupcake Girls on the Big Idea
The Cupcake Girls, Lori and Heather share their story on how they started their successful bakery and TV show.
I will never forget the day my life changed for the better. It was the Friday before Good Friday in the year 2000. I was dating my husband back then and working for IKON Office Solutions. The point is, I was working and Nikolas was en route to Hawaii for his annual family vacation.
I was frustrated because I had a job with limited annual vacation time. I had only been working for IKON for almost one year which meant that I had two weeks’ vacation (which I had already used up with Nikolas earlier this year). Nikolas' family owned their own business and therefore had the flexibility to travel and vacation extensively in the year.
We chatted on the phone as he waited to board his plane, and I remember feeling very anxious and somewhat jealous. "I won't be able to take this much time off work for family vacations when we get married!".
Nikolas' calm response was: "But wouldn't you like to have a lot of family vacations?" I stopped walking, and slowly -- and assuredly -- responded, "Yes."
"Then do something about it,” said Nikolas. “Start your own business." That might have been the end of our phone conversation, but it was the just the start for me of really thinking and believing that one day I was going to have my own business.
One year later, Heather moved to Vancouver. We were finally living in the same city again, and it was only a matter of days before we started talking about what business ideas we had. But as usual, we were distracted with real life and real jobs, and living out our lives as single girls in our late 20s. The fun business ideas would have to be parked. But not for long.
In 2001, Heather and I were in New York, both working for the same company. We were beginning to realize that what we were achieving working for someone else we could achieve for ourselves.
How and why did cupcakes enter the picture, you ask? Living in New York just after September 11th, 2001, we both felt that the energy of a once vibrant city was temporarily heavy, politically charged and unstable. Around that time, I took Heather to a small mom’n’pop bakery in the Village. Every person in the line was waiting to help themselves to the cupcakes that were displayed on a small table in the corner.
The cupcakes looked sweet and fresh, almost angelic. They were a nice treat, an escape from the reality of what was really happening in the outside world. This was the 'ah-ha' moment for Heather. In an instant, Heather had the vision for a cupcakes concept bakery. A bakery that would remind us of our grandmother's kitchen. A sweet place in time that was simple, wholesome and genuinely pure.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Becoming an entrepreneur is not something you go to school for, it is something you are born to be. This blog entry is not only my pivotal point but also my earliest memory I have of becoming an entrepreneur.
The work ethic that I have today started when I began working at the young age of 11 at the farm where my horse was kept. I would arrive in the early morning when it was still dark out, eager to get started with the horses. Every morning at sunrise I would open up the barn, feed and turn out the horses and start cleaning one of forty stalls by myself. I not only loved everything about my first job but I also never saw a cent of the money I made. Every dollar I earned went back into paying for my riding lessons, boarding horses and attending a very expensive equestrian show circuit. Looking back now, I realize that working at the barn was not only about shovelling shit, getting dirty and wrestling 1000lb animals: It was the beginning stages of what was yet to come. Having these responsibilities at a young age molded me into the tough, no-nonsense business person I am today.
After spending five years at the barn, I needed and wanted something new. Getting older and growing out of my dirty riding clothes I began to realize that my passions were changing. As a young adolescent I wanted to learn something new, work somewhere different and do something I was truly passionate about, that was when my love affair for retail began.
It was early spring 1991, and I had just started working at my first retail job in Mayfair Mall. I would drive myself to and from work each day, open the store and wait for the customers to come in. Working in the mall seemed so much more glamorous than my first job, and it was there that I first met Lori.
Lori was a vivacious, energetic, easygoing and friendly person and we immediately clicked. One busy afternoon I had to do a store-to-store transfer with Lori, who worked for the same company but a different store. Little did we both know that that transfer was not only the beginning of our friendship but the beginning of our professional future together.
Over the next 12 years, Lori and I would become great friends and confidants. It didn't take long before we both realized that our passion for retail and becoming entrepreneurs were strikingly similar. It was then that our discussions about business began. We would talk for hours over which new concept would be "the one". That conversation and concept changed as quickly as the trends we were used to but we were both determined to see it through.
It took us a few more years in concept retail and sales to realize that our true passion was just that: retail and sales. Why cupcakes? Because it was something that we knew we could make into something great.